Rampant Messi, Barca give Bayern a thrashing in European Champions League
BARCELONA, Spain (AP):
Lionel Messi scored two outstanding goals and set up Neymar to add another in injury time as Barcelona handed Bayern Munich and former coach Pep Guardiola a 3-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final yesterday.
Not even the coach who helped Messi become one of the best ever to play the game could find a way of stopping the prolific forward from scoring his 76th and record 77th goals in the competition.
Messi rifled a left-footed strike between Manuel Neuer and the post in the 77th and three minutes later brought defender Jerome Boateng to the turf before chipping the goalkeeper.
Messi was in brilliant form from the start and rounded off by providing the pass for Neymar to race away and score in stoppage time.
"Guardiola knows Messi and he knows that if he is inspired, nobody can stop him," Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said. "He scored two spectacular goals."
A day after Juventus beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the other first-leg match, the scale of Barcelona's victory now makes them a runaway favourite to reach the final - ahead of the return leg against Bayern in Munich next Tuesday.
Guardiola said before the match that there was no way to defend Messi's "magnitude of talent". And despite keeping him in check for well over an hour, Messi finally proved his former coach right.
Barcelona are now almost halfway to avenging the 7-0 thrashing Bayern dealt them at this stage two years ago.